Vikings muscle their way to successful season

The North Forsyth wrestling team is looking forward to the playoffs.

Vikings muscle their way to successful season
January 16
09:30 2020

The turnaround of North Forsyth athletics has been a long time coming. That success is not limited to just the football and basketball teams, as their wrestling team is thriving as well.

At the time this article was written, the North Forsyth wrestling team had an overall record of 20-10. They are looking forward to the regional and state playoffs to see where they stack up against some of the best talent North Carolina has to offer.  

The Vikings are coming off a pretty successful season last year and head coach Wayne Griffin feels this team has the talent to continue to achieve. A little-known fact about the Vikings is their team is 100% African American.  

“My expectations were pretty high since we were coming off of a 23-win season last year and we had eight all-conference wrestlers, with six of them coming back, so the expectations were there,” said Griffin about this season. “We started this program with three kids in 2013 and we have built it from the ground up, with a steady incline towards where we are now.

“We were expecting greatness and we want to continue to improve on our season. Even though wrestling is an individual sport, we take a team approach.”

Even though his team has hit the 20-win mark in back-to-back seasons, Griffin says he is finally seeing the maturation in his wrestlers he wanted to see.  

“Last year, I probably used to call out every single move for them to do,” he said. “This year, they are a year older with a lot more training under their belt and now they are just starting to build and react. They have their own game plan without me telling them this is what we are going to do out here on the mat.”

Since taking over in 2013, Griffin has continued to improve the team in numbers and skill. He said he just sold the program to the potential wrestlers and the kids bought in.

“We started building this program as being mentors to our black kids and then they just started staying around and by word of mouth they said we can do this sport,” Griffin said. “Kids don’t come to high school wanting to be wrestlers, especially here at North Forsyth.

“I get a team of kids that get cut from basketball and kids that don’t want to go home. I started selling the program by telling kids just to give me to December. If they don’t like this sport in December, I will shake your hand, I’m still going to love you, I’m still going to wish you the best, but let me coach you until December. If they give me until December, I got them, because we make it pretty fun for our kids. That way they will continue to want to come out and be a part of this sport.”

Griffin takes great pride in introducing the sport of wrestling to kids who may not have ever attempted to wrestle if not for him.

“Wrestling has a lot of carry-over into a lot of sports,” he said. “I tell kids every day, if you want to compete, come compete.”

From being a coach and a wrestler for 18 years, Griffin says he knows when they walk into a gym as an all-black team, their opponents look at them a certain way.

“When we walk into a gym, I know teams look at us like we don’t understand wrestling. They don’t think we put the time in to be successful,” he continued. “When we shake their hand and they know after they see that first guy out there and they know we are for real, then they take us seriously.”

Griffin, who is a Mt. Tabor graduate, was a three-time state qualifier in wrestling. He credits Milton Hardy and Jason Hooker for mentoring him early on in his coaching career.  

“I’ve picked up a lot of things from great men over the years that pertain to this sport and I’m happy to share it with the team that I coach now,” said Griffin.

The fact that his team does not quit is one of their best qualities, Griffin said. He is excited to see what his team can do in the future and proud of how far his program has come. Griffin says the goal has always been to try and get his wrestlers to the college level to advance their lives in a positive way.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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